From the Publisher
Praise for 11 BIRTHDAYS:
* "A fresh twist on the familiar themes of middle-grade family and school dynamics."
-- BOOKLIST, starred review
* "Girls will relate to Amanda's insecurities, and the confidence and insight she gains will resonate."
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review
Praise for FINALLY:
"FINALLY is a treat -- a delicious story about fitting in, falling down, and growing up. Wendy Mass has done it again!"
-- Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal winner of WHEN YOU REACH ME
"FINALLY will have readers laughing, nodding in agreement, and sighing in sympathy."
Praise for 13 GIFTS:
* "Mass keeps the plot jumping like a fireworks display; there's one surprise spark after another, all coming together at the end for a breathtaking finale."
-- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review
"Philosophical and wryly humorous, this magical tale will satisfy both fans and new readers alike."
-- KIRKUS REVIEWS
Children's Literature - Sarah Raymond
Best friends Amanda and Leo have not spoken to one another for a year even though they have seen each other every day. When the mysterious Angelina D'Angelo finally gives them permission to talk, they have to set out on a crazy adventure through time to help nine-year-old Grace that is stuck in a frozen state. Amanda and Leo must stop Grace's birthday parties from being foiled. In doing so they can restore Grace back to normal, but like every good mystery there is more than what appears on the surface. Amanda and Leo must uncover the truth in order to really help Grace and the truth is not exactly what they think it is. This novel is a sweet, little adventure filled with time travel, strong friendships, and mystery. Readers will enjoy reading about Amanda and Leo's journeys as well as their budding relationship, which begins to go beyond just a friendship. Mass also does a nice job of bringing closure to the series as readers learn more about the mysterious Angelina D'Angelo. Reviewer: Sarah Raymond
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In this installment in the series, Mass continues to weave reality with fantasy, action, and plot twists to draw readers into her story. The Last Present pairs 13-year-old best friends, Amanda and Leo, to unravel the mystery of why 10-year-old Grace has become catatonic following their friend David's bar mitzvah. While visiting Grace, Angelina D'Angelo appears as her nurse, and the friends know that the mysterious old woman with special powers is involved. Amanda and Leo are instructed to journey to the past, specifically to Grace's previous birthday parties, to undo a curse that has befallen her. But, do they have enough information to reverse it? Angelina has a habit of leaving out important pieces of a story in order to get her way. With the help of their friends, Amanda and Leo are up to the challenge and begin their time-travel adventure. Woven seamlessly into this fantasy are the realistic issues that tweens encounter. Young love, sibling rivalry, and embarrassing parents are as much a part of this adventure as the time travel. Although part of a series, The Last Present can stand on its own, but readers will want to find the earlier titles once they have visited Willow Falls.—Annette Herbert, F. E. Smith Elementary School, Cortland, NY
The latest volume in the Willow Falls series finds Amanda and Leo trying to save a young girl through a series of eventful time-traveling adventures. Magical, mysterious Angelina D'Angelo has set out quite the task for best friends Amanda and Leo. For 10 years, Angelina has been thwarted as she attempted to place a benediction on a young girl named Grace, who now languishes in a coma. Amanda and Leo must time travel to Grace's prior birthday parties to ensure that the benediction successfully occurs, and they must get it right not once, but three times, to save her. Or so Angelina says. The friends discover that the story is more complicated and that it is wrapped up with Angelina's own closely guarded secrets. Character development and closure are key here. Amanda and Leo do a lot of growing up as they negotiate complicated ethical terrain as well as a relationship evolving from friendship into romance. Further, Mass successfully weaves together the stories of familiar characters from previous volumes and finally reveals a full picture of Angelina, the powerful, flawed puppet master of the previous episodes. While the tale has general appeal, it is most suited for devoted series fans, who will most appreciate the tying up of loose ends and revelation of long-held secrets. (Fantasy. 8-12)